The Georgia Public Service Commission (Commission) wishes to alert consumers who use the Internet, particularly those with a dial-up modem, of a practice that is sweeping across the country called "modem hijacking." Here's how the hijacking occurs.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the consumer is requested to access a website, usually adult entertainment, that claims to be "free" or advertises that "no credit card is needed." Next, the user is prompted to download a "viewer" or "dialer" program. Once the program is downloaded to the user's computer, it disconnects from the Internet and reconnects using another number which may either be a long distance, international or 900 number with rates that range from $2 to $7 per minute. Some modem dialers are programmed to circumvent an international block by initiating calls using a "10-10 dial around" prefix.
Following are some ways to minimize your chances of finding surprise charges on your phone bill related to modem hijacking. For additional safeguards, visit the FTC's website at www.ftc.gov.
- Make sure your modem makes an audible noise when dialing so you can hear that a new connection is being made.
- Delete any dialer programs that have been downloaded to your computer.
- Don't download programs from the Internet without reading the disclosure in its entirety.
- Be skeptical when you see claims like "free," "no credit card needed," or "free and uncensored."
If you believe that you have been a victim of "modem hijacking," you should file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), www.fcc.gov, 1-888-225-5322 and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), www.ftc.gov, 1-877-382-4357.